Spring cleaning can be more than a daunting chore for those with allergies and asthma. Dust, pet hair and cleaning supplies can leave you reaching for the tissues instead of the broom. But according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), spring cleaning can also help you avoid allergy symptoms.
Allergy season can last all year for those sensitive to indoor allergens, but it can worsen in the spring months when pollen becomes an issue. It’s important to remove allergens from the home so you can lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Thoroughly cleaning your home can help eliminate allergens and keep new ones from easily entering.
To help eliminate spring cleaning confusion, and symptoms, ACAAI allergists have put together five useful tips for removing allergens in the home, and ways to avoid accidentally letting more in.
- A Fresh Breeze Won’t Please – The first sign of balmy temperatures might give you an urge to open your windows to bring in fresh scents. But this can also lead to unwanted pollen particles entering the home and making you sneeze long after your spring cleaning is complete. Before you reach for the air fresheners and candles, be aware that chemicals found in these items can spur asthma attacks. Your best option is to opt for natural aromas from the oven or try an organic air freshener.
- Rub a Dub, Scrub – Bathrooms, basements and tiled areas can be especially prone to mold. The key to reducing mold is moisture control. Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean any standing water immediately. Scrub visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry. You can also help ward off mold by keeping home humidity below 60 percent and cleaning gutters regularly.
- Love your Pet, Not their Dander – After spending days indoors over the winter, chances are fur, saliva and dander from your family pet might be elevated throughout your home. Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed, and be sure to keep your pet out of the bedroom at all times to ensure you can sleep symptom-free.
- Whole House Deep Cleaning – Cleaning the entire house from top to bottom may take days. But you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Also be sure to vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.
- Don’t Neglect the Great Outdoors – As the grass turns green and flowers bud, keep the outdoors in mind during your spring-cleaning routine. Keep in mind it’s best to avoid being outdoors when pollen counts are highest (midday and afternoon hours). When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and an N95 particulate pollen mask and take your medication before you go outside. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors.
Even when you reduce the number of allergens in your home, allergy symptoms can still be bothersome. Those with seasonal and perennial allergies should be under the care of a board-certified allergist, who can identify the source of your suffering and develop a treatment plan to eliminate symptoms.
For more information about seasonal allergies and to locate an allergist, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 6,000 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes. For more information and to find relief, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org. Join us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.